Does Cardio Help You Lose Weight?

Have you ever wondered why people who go on the cross trainer for 45 minutes a day still have big bums? Or how your chubby friend ran a 10k race?

Thinking that endurance based cardio will make you slimmer is a myth. Below are some reasons why and some tips on how to improve your workouts for optimum health and fitness.

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1. Cardio based exercise makes you crave carbs –
cardiovascular activities are fuelled by your body by burning carbohydrates, so once you’ve finished pounding away on the treadmill your body will be craving stodgy carbs to replenish what you burnt. I often see people head to the cafe after gym sessions and most of them will eat more calories than they just worked off! Resistance based workouts like weight lifting however aren’t fuelled by carbohydrate, so you’re less likely to leave the gym feeling drained and hungry.

2. Muscle growth burns more calories than cardio – 
When you are doing cardio work you’re burning calories, when you stop doing cardio you stop burning calories soon after. When you lift weights you burn calories as you lift weights, you burn calories for a long time after you put the weights down during the recovery process and your new muscles burn calories just to be sustained every day. This means the more muscle tissue you have, the more calories you burn every day, simply by doing nothing!

3. Repetitive cardio raises fat inducing stress hormones – 
If you do prolonged cardio your body will produce excess Cortisol, the stress hormone. This encourages the body to cling onto fat, especially around the tummy area.

4. Your body will adapt and plateau – 
Your body is clever and as you do regular cardio your body becomes good at it and plateaus. Even if you make your cardio workout longer, you’re still performing the same movements and it won’t provide enough challenge for your body to lose weight.

5. Cardio teaches your body that it needs to store fat – 
When you weight train your body breaks down muscle mass to create new muscle mass and your body learns to store muscle. In the same way when you do cardio your body breaks down fat and therefore your body learns to store fat.

Of course, exercising your heart is really important and doing exercise that makes you breathless should always be encouraged.

If you want to make your cardio more effective at fat burning give these tips a go:

1. Make your cardio sessions shorter but more intense.

2. Break your sessions down into intervals, try a 1:1 ratio, for example 1 minute intense 1 minute rest. Warm up, repeat intervals about 5 times and then cool down.

3. Work your cardio into your resistance workouts by incorporating circuit training, or trying crossfit.

4. Run outside! It’s better for your core, it’s more mentally stimulating, you can breathe fresh air and best of all there’s no stop button to tempt you to cheat!



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